Cal swimmers walk out on Teri McKeever – The Mercury News

Cal women’s swim team members walked out of a Wednesday morning practice without training after briefly meeting with Golden Bears head coach Teri McKeever, the Southern California News Group has learned.

Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton associate AD Gordon Bayne and Graig Chow, the school’s director of high performance and well-being, have scheduled a meeting with Golden Bears swimmers after Wednesday’s afternoon practice.

The meeting comes a week after Cal was first informed of allegations uncovered in an SCNG investigation into pained bullying and verbal and mental abuse by McKeever. It also comes amid increasing calls from current and former Cal swimmers and their families and supporters for McKeever’s firing, along with the firings of Knowlton and Jennifer Simon-O’Neill, the athletic department’s senior women’s administrator and a close friend of McKeever’s, for their handling of a series of prior complaints against the coach.

More than 20 current or former Golden Bears athletes have told SCNG that they were bullied or verbally abused by McKeever or witnessed the coach bully and verbally abuse teammates.

An SCNG investigation posted Tuesday morning revealed that at least six Cal women’s swimmers since 2018 have made plans to kill themselves or obsessed about suicide for weeks or months because of what they describe as McKeever’s bullying.

Nineteen current and former Cal swimmers, six parents, and a former member of the Golden Bears men’s team also allege in the SCNG report that McKeever was a bully who for decades has painstakingly verbally and emotionally abused, swore at and threatened swimmers on an almost daily basis, pressured athletes to compete or train while injured or while dealing with chronic illnesses or eating disorders, even accusing some women of lying about their conditions despite being provided medical records by them.

Three other former Cal swimmers have told SCNG they were bullied by McKeever, dating back to 2005, since the report was first posted on Tuesday.

McKeever recently used a racial epithet and profanities in disparaging rap music, according to five swimmers familiar with the conversation and an email to Cal detailing the incident.

The university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination has opened a formal investigation into the incident that will initially focus on potential racial discrimination but could be expanded to also consider possible discrimination based on sexual orientation and national origin, according to confidential university documents obtained by SCNG.

McKeever has also complained that a current African American swimmer had too much “attitude,” according to five current swimmers.

Cal’s response to the report in the 30 hours after it was posted has frustrated, confused and angered current swim team members and their parents. The school declined to address the allegations choosing instead to release a statement mid-day Tuesday.

“We are deeply concerned by what our student-athletes have reported,” the statement read. “There is nothing more important to the university than the safety and well-being of our students, and it is that commitment which will guide and inform how we respond to all that has been reported.

“The allegations described are serious and deeply disturbing in that they describe behavior antithetical to our values ​​and policies. We are now, as always, encouraging current and former students to report behaviors and incidents that run counter to our policies and our values. We are now, as always, encouraging current and former students who may have been impacted to seek out support and assistance. We stand ready to help students in need connect with the appropriate campus resources and offices that offer support, guidance and assistance.

“Unfortunately, due to stringent laws and policies protecting personnel issues and privacy, we are unable to address these allegations. We wish that were not the case given how serious these allegations are. Due to campus polices and confidentiality requirements, the campus cannot comment on matters of this nature (including whether a case does or does not exist) unless that case has resulted in a finding of violation of campus sexual violence/sexual harassment policy or nondiscrimination policy, and that case has resulted in disciplinary action.”

But Cal swimmers said they were frustrated that the university had not reached out to them and were confused about McKeever’s status. Several parents said they have left messages for Knowlton but have not heard back from the AD.

Recently hired Cal assistant coach Jessie Moore informed swimmers still in Berkeley there would be a team meeting Wednesday morning, according to four people familiar with the situation. Instead, swimmers showed up to find McKeever who asked them if they were “ready to swim,” according to three people familiar with the practice.

When the swimmers said they were told there would be a meeting, McKeever said she had already read a statement but then read what one swimmer described as a “basic” statement.

At that point, a majority of the swimmers walked out without training, according to three people familiar with the practice. Moore followed the swimmers, some of whom were in tears, to the pool’s parking lot and asked if they were upset.

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